Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle, Vol. 1

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

Do I love CCR, or do I not? I don’t own a single of the seven (!) studio albums the band released in its four year lifespan (including three in 1969 alone), nor do I want to. I’ve listened to a couple of them, and they don’t do it for me. This is not true of all listeners – six of those albums went platinum, two hit double platinum, Green River achieved triple platinum status, and Cosmo’s Factory was the winner at quadruple platinum. But I love the singles. I think they are amazing, and I love that the band embraced a roots rock approach at a time when that wasn’t the popular path. And of course, it’s another sibling band.

What I Think of This Album

A great singles collection, Chronicle, Vol. 1 pulls together thirteen A sides and seven B sides. Right off the bat, I need to admit I am not a fan of the covers on here. I’ve never liked “Susie Q,” (Dale Hawkins) and while I can’t claim to hate it, that boundary is well within shouting distance. “I Put a Spell On You” belongs definitively to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and is therefore a sucker’s bet as a cover, though I concede that John Fogerty does a nice job on guitar. And the eleven minute version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is overkill; I don’t even think this post-breakup single deserves to be on this album.

And speaking of covers, “Travelin’ Band” is basically “Good Golly Miss Molly,” right down to the screams; a ‘50s inspired sax break only cements the pastiche. Not surprisingly, it is a fun song. Again, Fogerty plays a nasty little solo, and I like Doug Clifford’s drum fills. And while “Travelin’ Band” gets a little too close to its source material, it serves as a signpost to CCR’s greatest talent. In so many of these songs, the band incorporates different bits of country, soul, gospel, and ‘50s rock to create a sound that was familiar but fresh. Is it any wonder that Ike and Tina covered “Proud Mary,” which is obviously a soul number, with a gospel feel to the “rollin’” refrain? “Bad Moon Rising” has distinct rockabilly roots in that guitar riff and the solo, too, filtered through the band’s stolen swamp sound (they were from California, after all, not the bayou), and made all the more memorable by its apocalyptic lyrics. The country influences come to the fore on resigned “Lodi,” perhaps one of the most overlooked Creedence songs, featuring a fantastic vocal from Fogerty. For all his gritty howling, he is arguably most effective when he employs his empathic croon.

“Green River,” like “Run Through the Jungle,” “Sweet Hitchhiker,” and “Commotion,” relies heavily on the swamp blues, which I don’t much care for, but the band plays it better than anyone else. “Down On the Corner” is a rare party song, with some nice drumming from Clifford (including the insistent cowbell) and a funk-soul performance from everyone else. “Fortunate Son” of course is an electrifying screed against privilege and hypocrisy, forever tied to the Vietnam War context in which it was born. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” is a song Neutral Milk Hotel would’ve done wonders with. As it is, it’s an amazing piece, with another strong Clifford performance and fine vocal from Fogerty, who gives this sad, pleading song a country-folk treatment. “Up Around the Bend” brings the good times back, with a cattle prod of a guitar intro and gut-punching gravelly, soulful vocals. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” is almost comically bluegrass, but the shuffle is irresistible just the same; I like when the tempo slows towards the close and then picks up again for the quick outro.

Fogerty’s way with a ballad is well-exemplified on “Long As I Can See the Light.” And “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is the other meteorologic classic from the band, and the way the organ gradually makes its way into the piece is genius; Fogerty once again supplies a fantastic vocal. Another inimitable, spiky intro kicks off “Hey Tonight,” at heart a soul shouter dressed up in rock clothes. Ballad “Someday Never Comes” is another overlooked gem. I need to give a shout-out to bassist Stu Cook, who does memorable work on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” “Down On the Corner,” and “Hey Tonight.”

Tom Fogerty died in 1990, after receiving a blood transfusion that led to an HIV infection. Stu Cook auditioned for the Stones upon Bill Wyman’s retirement. The Fantasy records logo looks a lot like the Bauhaus logo.

The Best Thing About This Album

Fogerty’s voice could grind limestone.

Release Date

January, 1976

The Cover Art

Is it an accident that John and Doug are featured on the front cover, while Tom and Stu obtain prominence only on the rear cover? I don’t know, but the drummer and vocalist/ guitarist were definitely the biggest talents in this band. The “Featuring John Fogerty” tag is super awkward and weird. Overall, not a great cover, or even a good one.

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